How to Make Money From Virtual Events
Virtually all events have been canceled or postponed in countries with a huge growth rate of coronavirus thanks to lockdown and social distancing advised by their public administrations. But life still has to go on. While virtual events have been the common buzzwords amongst event management professionals, most are still struggling to find the miracle pill to monetize these online events. I’ve been to over hundreds of such events like webinars and even virtual concerts and I’ve gathered some tips and suggestions that we all could try to encourage people to pay.
Don’t Think of Virtual Events as Typical Events
The first tip is to not fall into the premise of thinking of duplicating your physical events into the online format such as pre-recording a session and play it live online. It just doesn’t work that way. Imagine yourself sitting in a conference room alone with your pajamas on without a single soul around you except you and the speaker. That’s how it almost feels like going to an online conference. We need to think out of the box to exploit the power of online media that we can’t deliver in an offline fashion. Here’re some areas to take advantage of.
- Live chats – It’s always hard to interrupt a speaker on stage to ask questions but with online streaming, it’s just a few keystrokes away. Get someone to queue the speaker when there’s an online question.
- Multiple concurrent live streams – ala multiple tracks in a physical conference in different rooms. But now, you can have as many online streams as you want at zero cost because you don’t have to pay for extra rental fees for each extra room. Only reveal the URLs of the concurrent streams on your main live stream. That way, people can’t access the other streams freely online.
Think Freemium (Free + Premium)
Unlike a physical event where you could directly sell tickets, online services thrive on freemium business model (free plus premium) because getting people to overcome the penny gap (willingness to pay for online service) is a day-to-day struggle for online enterprises. To bridge the gap, we need to deliver value – online value. Below are some freemium models you could follow.
Use a Donation Business Model
It must be awkward for a business event to expect people to donate but the donation model has been thriving in the virtual world ever since Wikipedia started. Think Wikipedia donation message that you see each year (and I’m proud to be a donor).
Sell More Tickets To Your Postponed Event
If you’re still trying to get a sell-out for your actual event, now is the time. Give on-the-spot discount during your online event saying “Hey, enter this discount code now before this online session ends and you get 30% off to our rescheduled event this fall!”
Offer Free Publicity to Potential Sponsors
Now is also the opportunity to close that sponsorship deals that you’ve been working so hard on. Offer a goodwill gesture to your potential sponsors with free publicity and marketing messages during your online events. Maybe now they might commit to your offline event.
Improve the Audio Quality
Most of the time, business webinars are streamed from a PC or laptop using its built-in microphone. I reckon a sound engineer would agree with me if I say, we have to improve the sound quality. At times, the sound quality reminiscent the sound of someone barking – too much mid-range coupled with poor Internet streaming bitrate. Investing in decent microphones or PA system would be worth it in the long run, or borrow one.
Offer a More Cinematic Experience
Remember, the cost of running an online event is a couple of times cheaper than running an offline event – thanks to gadgets and open-source software that we already have at our disposal. So now you can offer a home theatre experience. People may want to see what’s beyond the speaker’s face. Use your phone camera to start panning and zooming into your speakers and crew while running the live stream. Double your PC or laptop as a streaming machine with free streaming software. Here’s a technical tutorial on how to set up a professional live stream for virtual events.
Offer Some Personal Touch
Remember I said about the feeling of being alone at an online conference. Now is the time to get down to that personal level to talk to every online audience of yours. AMA (ask me anything) session works for online streaming because they attempt to answer as many questions as the speaker could. On the contrary, offline AMA sessions have a limited period of time usually in just within one hour or less. But I’ve seen online AMAs to last over 3 hours. It’s not too much to ask from your online speakers since they are doing it from the comfort of their homes (or pajamas).